CATASTROPHE!
by
Steve Conway


What a poetic name,

Ashtabula, Ohio.
On Lake Erie the wind blew
millions of snow flakes,
at wild angles in front
of the locomotive's head
lamp blinding the engineer
as it labored toward Chicago.
It was to
pass over the creek
on an iron truss bridge.
Seventy-five feet above icy water,
tie rods and braces began
to snap. The train
became an antenna,
compressed by a giant palm
of a hand, pushing cars
deep into one another.
Bodies hurled at
others, smashed in piles
as coal stoves and oil lamps
burst into flames.
Burnt flesh sizzled in snow,
the steamy stench of death
was whipped, on curling gusts.
Ninety-two were dead
after emergency blasts of the whistle
alerted those nearby.
Two days after he was acquitted,
an executive of the Lake
Shore and Michigan Southern,
was found in bed, two pistols and a razor
beside his stiffened hands.


Budget Press